Advocacy, Public Policy, & Social
Implications for Practitioner Training
Sylvia Nassar-McMillan, NC State University
[email protected]
Spencer Niles, Pennsylvania State University
[email protected]
• Advocacy, public policy, & social justice are key counselling
competencies; yet, educators and thus, practitioners, may
overlook them, in favor of more “relevant” or traditional
course content.
• U.S. examples of educational & career inequities include
underrepresentation of specific groups within both of these
arenas – probably similar to those in other countries.
• We will:
state the problem/s;
define key terms;
provide information about our preliminary study;
identify gaps & implications;
present strategies for application in cross-cultural contexts.
Examples of Representation Issues
• Women
– Overrepresented
• Biological science (67% of bachelor degrees)
(NSF, 2004)
– Underrepresented
• Computer science (25% of bachelor degrees), physics (21.5%) ,
electrical engineering (14.2%), and mechanical engineering
• 11% of employed engineers
(NSF, 2004)
(NSF 2003)
• African Americans
– Well-represented
• Computer science (10.3% of bachelor degrees), social sciences
(10.3%), and psychology (9.7%) (NSF, 2004)
– Underrepresented
• Engineering (5% of bachelor degrees), mathematics (5.7%) and
physical sciences (6.7%)
• 5% of scientists, 3% of physical scientists, and 3% engineers (NSF 2003)
(NSF, 2004)
Definition: Advocacy
• (CACREP) ADVOCACY — action taken on
behalf of clients or the counseling profession
to support appropriate policies and standards
for the profession; promote individual human
worth, dignity, and potential; and oppose or
work to change policies and procedures,
systemic barriers, long-standing traditions,
and preconceived notions that stifle human
American Counseling Association
Code of Ethics
• A.6.a. Advocacy
When appropriate, counselors advocate
at individual, group, institutional,
and societal levels to examine
potential barriers and obstacles that
inhibit access and/or the growth and
development of clients.
Definition: Multicultural
• (CACREP) MULTICULTURAL — term denoting
the diversity of racial, ethnic, and cultural
heritage; socioeconomic status; age; gender;
sexual orientation; and religious and spiritual
beliefs, as well as physical, emotional, and
mental abilities.
Definitions: Public Policy
• Public policy is the body of fundamental
principles that underpin the operation of legal
systems in each state.
• The set of policies (laws, plans, actions,
behaviors) of a government.
Definition: Social Justice
• Social justice, sometimes called civil justice,
refers to the concept of a society in which justice
is achieved in every aspect of society, rather than
merely the administration of law. It is generally
thought of as a world that affords individuals and
groups fair treatment and an impartial share of
the benefits of society.
• It can also refer to the distribution of advantages
and disadvantages within a society.
Relevant CACREP Content Areas
that provide an understanding of the cultural
context of relationships, issues, and trends in
a multicultural society
CAREER DEVELOPMENT—studies that provide
an understanding of career development and
related life factors
We wondered:
• Whether counselor educators infuse content
related to advocacy, public policy, and social
justice into career development courses
• If they do, how do they do it?
Our Study: Methods
• Participants – counselor educator members of
National Career Development Association
• Instruments – respondent/participants’ career
counseling course syllabi
• Procedures – we obtained a membership list
from NCDA and contacted/solicited
participation from all counselor
Our Study: Results
• 79 syllabi from 63 universities were content analyzed for the
terms: advocate/advocacy, social justice, diversity/diverse,
• CO = Course Objectives; CA = Course Assignments; Other
• CO
• CA
• Other
Social Justice
• Key terms most prevalent in course objectives
• Most prevalent key terms were diversity and
multicultural (vs. advocacy and social justice)
• Most course assignments are papers; a few
presentations (pertaining to multiculturalism
& diversity)
• Possible barriers
– more traditional topics are implemented more frequently
in career training courses
– out of comfort zone (multiculturalism and related
movements, esp. advocacy/public policy, are relatively
recent – still developing/evolving)
– one can’t teach what one doesn’t truly know
• Best practices –autobiographical papers; case studies;
experiential activities
• Perhaps educators need to draw on (or develop) their
personal experiences related to social justice and advocacy

Advocacy, Public Policy, & Social Justice: